LONDON -- ScanSafe, the leading global provider of Web Security-as-a-Service, today released its latest Global Threat Report on Web and instant messaging (IM), spyware and Web viruses. Among the report's key findings, the company saw a 40 percent increase in U.S.-based requests for gambling-related Web pages, despite the fact that on October 13, 2006 President Bush signed the "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act" into law. The company also said that spyware increased for the second consecutive month as the online holiday shopping season gets underway.
The ScanSafe Global Threat Report is based on real-time analysis of more than five billion Web requests and more than 10 million Web threats processed by the company in October and is the largest analysis of Web security threats based on real-world traffic.
"Given the recent U.S. legislation, we had anticipated a drop in visits to gambling sites," said Dan Nadir, vice president, product strategy, ScanSafe. "However, we actually saw an increase in Web requests from the U.S. for online gambling sites."
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act prohibits U.S. banks and other brokers from transferring funds to Internet gambling sites. The Act was signed following the arrests in the U.S. of several online gambling executives, including the CEO of BetonSports, a company publicly traded in the U.K. The law requires federal regulators to come up with regulations to identify and block money transactions to gambling sites within 270 days from the date the bill is signed into law. In the wake of the legislation, some gambling sites have refused to accept bets from U.S. players.
"Some of the Web requests were related to betting on the World Series in October," Nadir added. "This could have been compounded by gamblers looking to register with alternative providers before further regulations clarifying the Act are put into place."
Recreational surfing at work can open up companies to security risks by exposing them to inappropriate content, Web viruses and spyware that can compromise confidential information.
Spyware Increases 15 Percent as Online Holiday Shopping Season Starts
The company recorded a 15 percent increase in spyware and adware in October, following a 21 percent increase in September.
"We saw a similar upward trend in spyware during the run-up to the holiday season last year, with a doubling of spyware and adware blocks in the second half of the year," said Nadir. "For spyware authors, online holiday shopping is a rich target. A significant number of users conduct their online holiday shopping at work, where they may feel they are more secure. This makes it imperative that businesses have the appropriate security controls in place to address the increased likelihood of exposure to spyware, phishing and Web-based viruses."
In a survey of 1,500 users conducted in the run-up to Christmas in 2005, ScanSafe found that over a third of office workers had shopped online while at work or were planning to do so. Yet, 60 percent of respondents were not worried at all about the potential security risks.
Nadir added that IT administrators should deploy solutions that allow them to quickly and easily monitor and if necessary, restrict access to online shopping sites for individual users or groups of users during the next few months.